Last year, sake production dropped below 1 million kiloliters for the first time since the industry's postwar recovery. Much of this drop was seen in the realm of cheap sake and honjozo, whereas the higher grades of junmaishu and ginjoshu stayed the same or made very modest production gains. Fewer people, it appears, are drinking less expensive sake.

In the early '70s, honjozo was all the rage. This was before the days of the "ginjo boom," a time when there was very little of this mysterious ginjoshu stuff even available. Back then, there was even a group known as the Honjozo Kyokai. A poster showing the labels of their members is now a collector's item. (Well, OK, at least I cannot get myself to throw mine away.)

But now, honjozo has fallen to the bottom of the top. Which is to say, honjozo is still considered "premium sake," but not quite as premium as junmaishu and the various grades of ginjoshu.